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Selecting, storing, serving right way



Published: Wed, July 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Besides being delicious, tomatoes are good for you.

By BARBARA H. DRAKE

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

What is a tomato? Tomatoes are cultivated and used as a vegetable. Botanically, they are a fruit, being fleshy and containing many seeds that are not stones. Regardless of how you classify them, they remain an Ohio favorite because of their versatility and flavor.

Selection

UTomatoes can be red, orange, orange-pink or yellow when ripe, depending on the variety.

USizes range from the very small cherry tomato to oval or pear shaped (used for tomato sauce or paste) to giant & quot;beefsteak & quot; type used for slicing.

USelect tomatoes that are firm, glossy, smooth and plump. Avoid those that are soft, bruised, cracked or otherwise damaged.

UPurchase tomatoes at various stages of ripeness, then use the ripest tomatoes first. Examine the tomato's color. Those that are the deepest in color are the ripest.

UAlways remember, tomatoes can ripen after picking.

UFor information on tomato varieties and uses, contact your county Extension agent, Agriculture or Horticulture.

Storage

URipen tomatoes at room temperature, 70 degrees, smooth end down and stem end up. The bumpy & quot;shoulders & quot; of the stem end are the most tender part of the tomato and will bruise simply by the weight of the fruit.

USunlight is not necessary to ripen fruit, and placing tomatoes in the window is not recommended. They could become overheated which prevents good color and flavor development and increases the chance of decay.

UDo not place tomatoes in the refrigerator unless they are fully ripened. Damage often occurs at temperatures below 55 degrees F and tomatoes will not ripen any further in the refrigerator.

UOnce tomatoes are fully ripe, they should be stored in a cool area at 55 -58 degrees. An excess of fully ripe tomatoes may be stored in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. They will lose some color and flavor, but will still be good to eat.

UAny excess of partially ripened tomatoes should be fully ripened at room temperature before storage in the refrigerator. Ripening at room temperature after storage in the refrigerator is not practical and may may result in soft tomatoes with a watery consistency.

UIf tomatoes are harder when bought than desired for eating, they will not soften as quickly in the refrigerator as they will at room temperature. The rate of softening is only slowed, not stopped, at refrigerator temperatures.

Nutrition

UOne medium tomato has only 35 calories, is rich in vitamins C and A, and contains small amounts of the B vitamins and potassium.

Yield

Due to the many variables, such as moisture content, size and variety, it is impossible to give specific recommendations for quantities to buy. The recommendations below are approximations only.

U1 bushel of tomatoes = 53 to 56 pounds.

U1 pound of tomatoes = about 3 medium tomatoes.

Serving

UIf your recipe calls for peeled and/or seeded tomatoes, hold in boiling water for 30 seconds, plunge into cold water, drain, make a slit in the blossom end and peel skins back.

USeed by cutting the tomato in half crosswise and remove seeds with the tip of a knife or spoon.

USlice tomatoes the French way, from stem to blossom and in this way they lose less juice.

UTop with fresh or dried herbs, such as basil, oregano, tarragon, thyme or curry powder.

UStuff large tomatoes with a variety of mixtures such as fish, poultry, egg salad or cottage cheese.

UStuff cherry tomatoes for bite-size appetizers. To prepare, slice off tops and a very thin slice off the bottom, so they will stand well. Remove seeds and juice with a melon scoop. Stuff with your favorite fillings-cream cheese and watercress; tuna and mayonnaise; pulverized peanuts, mayonnaise and curry powder; or avacado, minced onion and lemon juice.

UFor an elegant salad or appetizer, layer sliced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and fresh mozzarella cheese on lettuce. Dress lightly with olive oil.

UTomatoes get better and better tasting as you cook them. They are great in entrees which cook a long time or require next day & quot;reheating. & quot;

OHIO FRESH GAZPACHO

1 cup chopped peeled tomato

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/3 cup chopped green onion

2 tsp. snipped parsley

1 clove minced garlic

3 Tbls. wine vinegar

2 Tbls. olive oil

1 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2-1/2 cups tomato juice

Chop ingredients in food processor. Chill in glass or stainless steel bowl at least 4 hours. Serves 6-8.




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